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Default Skyrim - On compass and journal and the road to nowhere

January 9th, 2012, 08:26
I can appreciate the arguments against compass pointers (and enjoy the lack of such where appropriate) but, frankly, I find it handy when my gaming sessions consist of 20 minutes here and there. Yes, yes…I'm a hyperactive moron kiddy mainstream gamer and so on and so forth.

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January 9th, 2012, 10:07
It's an issue if you have some form of OCD.

I must admit it takes me alot of effort to not try and clear out my 'journal'. As said above it would be nice to have an option to remove unfinished quests (= those you didn't want to finish) from the journal so if you have some OCD you can still roleplay you're character instead of your compulsion.

I have no problem with the Compass/Markers. Just a problem that all quests (including those I didn't actually want to start) stay in the quest dialog. I'd like it without a compass, but I think it's false that turning it off improves it. The game is designed with compass in mind so taking it out will not make directions any more descriptive whereas if a game is designed without compass/markers the amount of dialogue increases to provide directions.

Originally Morrowind didn't even track quests (they patched that in) but just a chronological journal with quest stages strewn all about. Somehow I didn't have OCD with that, since the (patched-in) list of quests wasn't the default view, instead it was a journal of my activities and thus unfinished quest weren't that obvious.

Now they are just glaring at me, enticing me to complete them.

I'm quite ambigues about the start of the Thieves Guild questline. On the one hand I like that it's so organic and realistic. The downside is that it isn't obvious which guild quest you get roped into. This is the dynamic fluid kind of experiences that didn't happen in static Morrowind, where joining the Thieves Guild meant just walking up to them. In the same maner I've been roped into the College of Winterhold and into doing daedric quests. At some point I did realise I was suddenly (or required to) do a Guild questline, but by that time it had already entered my journal and it became difficult for me to ignore. So yes an option to hide questlines would be welcome for me.

It all wouldn't be a problem for me if I was better at ignoring open quests in my journal.
Last edited by JuliusMagnus; January 9th, 2012 at 10:08. Reason: clarify I mean compass/markers not just compass.
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January 9th, 2012, 11:53
It's not just about markers/journal. It's about "systematizing" game features, which is something many designers tend to overdo.

I find this trend has exploded since the popularity of MMOs took off with WoW, but it's been there before as well.

It's when you over-design and you help yourself by putting game systems in order, and you make your design into a blueprint formula. Bioware is probably the worst offender in the current AAA segment.

I HATE this trend, because it makes gaming very, very predictable. Even if you don't know the story or the characters behind a quest, you know exactly WHAT KIND of quest you can expect.

Having every single quest auto-logged in a journal with a precise quest marker to show you the way is a symptom of this widespread disease.

So, designers need to re-think how they approach design if we're to have any hope of getting back to the unpredictable "mystery" when playing a game.

I doubt this will happen, because it's much, much harder to have dozens of people working on something that's not systematized in some way. Modern development is about coordinating zillions of resources - and you need very clear stuff to point to during project meetings.

It's to the advantage of the indie developer, because developing solo or with very few people means you don't have to formalise your development or your design goals to the same extent. You can keep much of it as a surprise to the player.
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January 9th, 2012, 12:05
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
It's not just about markers/journal. It's about "systematizing" game features, which is something many designers tend to overdo.

I find this trend has exploded since the popularity of MMOs took off with WoW, but it's been there before as well.

It's when you over-design and you help yourself by putting game systems in order, and you make your design into a blueprint formula. Bioware is probably the worst offender in the current AAA segment.

I HATE this trend, because it makes gaming very, very predictable. Even if you don't know the story or the characters behind a quest, you know exactly WHAT KIND of quest you can expect.

Having every single quest auto-logged in a journal with a precise quest marker to show you the way is a symptom of this widespread disease.

So, designers need to re-think how they approach design if we're to have any hope of getting back to the unpredictable "mystery" when playing a game.

I doubt this will happen, because it's much, much harder to have dozens of people working on something that's not systematized in some way. Modern development is about coordinating zillions of resources - and you need very clear stuff to point to during project meetings.

It's to the advantage of the indie developer, because developing solo or with very few people means you don't have to formalise your development or your design goals to the same extent. You can keep much of it as a surprise to the player.
Well said, and that is why indie developments are sometimes more enjoyable than big developer titles. I can't forget how enjoyable it is when quest givers in Gothic 3 tell you to find someone or something in the north east of the map (no quest arrow or marker) to find some other side quests, a cave, a grave, or wander off to a completely new area and enjoy exploring.
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January 9th, 2012, 12:52
The overall attitude towards the compass seems to have changed quite a bit. I remember the old Oblivion discussions around here, where a lot of people really disliked the compass. Now it seems more and more are simply indifferent.

Overall, I think I still prefer the old way of doing it, with good descriptions rather than a compass or a map that's practically a GPS. Morrowind's version was somewhat flawed because the descriptions were often inaccurate, but Might & Magic, Gothic and so on all used that system with great success.
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January 9th, 2012, 12:59
Perhaps somone can mod the skyrim quest texts to be better. Good enough so one doesnt need compass.

Directions for different quests could differ. Somtimes you get only directions like "go there and then take the bridge over the river.." and somtimes the quest giver draws you a map. Somtimes the quest description could be a riddle or puzzle.

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January 9th, 2012, 14:02
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
Do you remember some of the directions in Morrowind? Cross the bridge, go east from the big rock, cross the foyada, make a left at the signpost and the cave will be to the northwest. I don't think there's many people that want to go back to that system.
Because people just don't want Reality ?

Navigation instruments instead ? GPS ?

I have been directed by similar vague direction during my walking tours over the years, too.

You learn to know a lot of areas you've never been before through that.
This can become both bliss and a curse to end up in new streets.

My last one resulted in finding myself in the wrong business park than the one I wanted to get walk to, and having to extend my walking tour into 10 Kilometres to get back to my starting point. (This actually happened last November, I think, and the problem lied partly in the fact that I was in the end walking around a motorway junction, where the business parks were located in 2 quarters of that structure.)

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January 9th, 2012, 14:11
Markers and compasses themselves aren't necessarily a problem, though they often influence negative design choices.

Some of these design choices I'd describe as "dumbing down", while others simply result in less immersion or less varied quest design(to me at least).

Replacing directions with quest markers reduces immersion for me, but I don't consider it to be "dumbing down" per se. There is little intelligence required in following directions, but I appreciate being able to navigate by looking at the world and talking to NPCs instead of being forced to follow a magical marker.

Also, certain types of quests become impossible to design (or boring to play) with a quest-marker system. Naturally this includes "search for thingy/persons"-quests but the biggest problem is that there's no longer any thinking involved with the kind of journal/quest-tracking system that is in Oblivion/Fallout 3/NV/Skyrim. The solution(s) to quests is plainly visible in your journal and the magical marker leads to it. All quests, and by extension, most of the gameplay becomes "follow the marker and kill/talk/activate thingy to get a new marker".

New Vegas (and Fallout 3 to a much, much lesser extent) got around this by offering choices that didn't always have immediately obvious consequences, and also by having some fairly involved untracked quests. You could theoretically just follow the markers without thinking but then you probably end up screwing up a lot of things faction/plot-wise.

One might say that the Bethesda system killed the "puzzle" aspect of questing in New Vegas, but by putting a strong emphasis on "choices and consequences", Obsidian still managed to make the game about more than following a marker.

Anyway, my opinion on the matter is:

Ideally there should be area quest markers specifying a general radius only when object/NPC location is known to the player. Journal only contains information known to the player. Game is designed to be played this way (there are quests where you have to figure out yourself how to proceed) BUT there is a "Hints ON" option to turn on exact location markers + quest compass for those who prefer this.
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January 9th, 2012, 14:17
Does Skyrim has real directions for quests? Is it like New Vegas where you can complete many of the quests without the compass or like Oblivion where its essential?

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January 9th, 2012, 14:30
Originally Posted by Kefka View Post
Does Skyrim has real directions for quests? Is it like New Vegas where you can complete many of the quests without the compass or like Oblivion where its essential?
The journal in Skyrim barely gives any context or directions for quests. Much worse than Oblivion.
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January 9th, 2012, 17:07
Originally Posted by zahratustra View Post
In Skyrim quest descriptions are so vague that only few players seems to be maso… I mean hardcore enough to turn compass and/or markers off.
I'm not especially hardcore (I enjoyed ME2!), but I have markers turned of and am really enjoying the game.
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January 9th, 2012, 18:00
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I can appreciate the arguments against compass pointers (and enjoy the lack of such where appropriate) but, frankly, I find it handy when my gaming sessions consist of 20 minutes here and there. Yes, yes…I'm a hyperactive moron kiddy mainstream gamer and so on and so forth.
This is me too. I often only have a little time to play here and there. I've only logged about 50 hours total, and I installed it on release day. Facts of life. It's the big reason I couldn't get though any of the Gothics… Games like that simply require too much time investment keeping track of what's going on, who is who, where a particular person is, etc.

I sometimes don't even play a game at all for a week at a time. Not by choice, but other stuff gets in the way.
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January 9th, 2012, 20:44
I've played both ways and I've chosen a hybrid. When I get a quest from someone, I look at the marker for the quest and find out where it is. Then I turn the marker off and head that direction. This way, I have a pretty good idea where to go, but not an exact GPS guiding me there. I also installed a mod that shows roads, recently, and this helps with turning off the markers quite a bit. I'll remember take the big road from Whiterun southwest until you hit a small crossroads heading nw. Follow that till you see a fort, etc. Mods have changed how I'm playing the game, in small ways, already

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January 9th, 2012, 21:24
Originally Posted by Kefka View Post
Does Skyrim has real directions for quests? Is it like New Vegas where you can complete many of the quests without the compass or like Oblivion where its essential?
I played about half of my first playthrough without the compass and all of my second playthrough, so a few hundred hours in total without the compass and never missed it.

Well, I would add if I had never visited High Hrothgar before and it was my very first time playing the game, it would probably take quite a while to figure out how to get there.
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January 9th, 2012, 21:45
Especially since the Jarl doesn't even mention Ivarsted, iirc

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January 9th, 2012, 22:35
Since directions to quest locations are not often given, it's a shame one has to use the map marker… I'd prefer directions and getting them captured in the quest description.
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January 9th, 2012, 22:59
High Hrothgar has to be one of the worst places to get to. I'd hate to have to find my way. Now the clairvoyance spell is a great crutch for us mages, but you steel-swingers would just be up the proverbial creek

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January 9th, 2012, 23:02
LOL! Even with the map marker it took me a long time to figure out how to get there…
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January 10th, 2012, 01:12
Well that's because you always track LEFT when sometimes you need to go RIGHT!! lol

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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January 10th, 2012, 04:21
Took me a loooong time to get to High Hrothgar. Even with the compass.
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